Stop 6: James Crowther

James Crowther

James Crowther

Grave #2897 

Colonel James E. Crowther is the highest ranking officer buried in the cemetery, although you would hardly know it based off of his simple headstone.  His regiment, the 110 PA Infantry, fought at Hazel Grove on the morning of May 3rd during the Battle of Chancellorsville, and was ordered to hold their position at all hazards until it became impossible.  Unfortunately, the regiment was not aware that the rest of the line had broken, leaving them vulnerable to a flanking attack.  Called upon by the Confederate force to surrender, the 110PA responded with hand-to-hand fighting.  The regiment lost almost half their strength in this fighting, included their colonel.  Perhaps knowing his possible fate, Crowther had written to his wife Sarah a few days before the campaign, his last letter home. “ I hope we will get through safe.” he concluded, “Don’t forget me my dear wife.  My love to the children.”  When the men returned the following year during the 1864 campaign, they found that the Confederates had carefully buried Crowther and marked the grave with his name and rank on a piece of cracker box, allowing him to be reburied under an identified marker here at the cemetery.  

James Crowther Grave

Even though Crowther is the highest ranking officer buried in the cemetery, he has the same simple headstone as all other known burials.

The burials from 1863 represent a wide variety of engagements: Chancellorsville and Salem Church, the Mine Run Campaign, and the ever-present threat of disease.  Many casualties from the Battle of Chancellorsville were reinterred into the cemetery under “unknown” markers because the Confederates were largely responsible for burying the dead after the Union retreated.  Because of this many Union dead were buried in unidentified graves or left unburied as the armies moved towards Gettysburg.